Sunday, June 14, 2009

in memory of Michael

- by Carol Lynn Pearson

There's something strangely false in our
Assured, complete goodbye,
For love's the blood in the flesh of the soul
And the soul will never die.
So--friendly, fondly, as I may
In God's approving view,
I'll call across eternity
For messages of you.

Before the Mike I love and married in 1995, there was another Michael I loved and lived with for two years in the early 1980s.

Michael and I met one night in a yuppie-type restaurant/bar. It was my only case of love at first sight, and he said his also. I was having drinks with friends after work, he was celebrating the end of his first year law school exams. The intoxicating stranger gave me a ride back to my place on his motorcycle. Two weeks later, he returned to the house he shared with roommates to collect his big dog and his belongings and he moved in with me.

After our relationship fell apart -- my fault mainly -- we had a few magnetic, mercurial meetings for a year following, even after he formed a new but short-lived relationship with another woman. His dog even returned to the porch of the house we shared and that I kept when the two of them moved ten blocks away. Our friends and family were caught in the whir, with his younger brother becoming my close confidant and kindred. It was complicated.

One night in 1982 I wrote in a book given to me by a friend, a book of really rather mediocre poetry as poetry goes but that contains this one pearl that shone through the confusion of lost love and the accompanying heartbreak. I can tell by my writing that I was drunk when I made the notation: For Michael 8-17-82, being an additional indicator of that time in my life. Three years later I was to enter treatment for alcoholism and I see now that the way the relationship ended was the beginning of my descent into what is called "hitting bottom" prior to recovery.

Michael married in 1990 and had a son. I lost contact with his brother after my marriage in 1995, but I was aware that Michael lived in this area and, although we were long over, every once in awhile I was drawn back to this poem. The power of the poem held an importance that I never questioned.....

In the last few months through the modern miracle that is Facebook I've reignited some old friendships that bring me much happiness. One is with Michael's younger brother, who left a message a month ago saying that he'd be visiting Oregon in June. This news did indeed propel me to once again pull the little book containing this poem from my shelves. I find it truly astonishing that, for the first in all the times I'd read it, I thought that it sounded as if the poem were describing a separation caused by death and not just the cessation of a relationship, which was the context in which I'd always read it.

Following that, I dreamed of Michael. It was, I am sure, the only dream I've ever had of him. It was a dynamic dream with earthy symbolism that the next morning seemed quirky, but that I now understand.

Two days after my dream I heard from his brother again, this time a long email written via my blog profile........ And so it was that, on June 6, 2009, I learned of Michael's death in 2002 at age 54 after a brief struggle with lymphoma.

I've been processing the shock for a week now at the same time that plans are being made to have lunch with the brother when he visits Michael's son and widow next week here in Oregon. My husband has been so understanding of my spaciness and my silence, and has offered some keen observations that helped me greatly.

It seems too surreal for me to mourn one I loved long ago who has been dead now for over seven years. Yet I have grieved. It seems not my place to feel a loss, for there was a wife who knew him as no one else could. Still, I've felt the loss of a strong link in the chain of my past, thereby lightening the anchor to my life that was ..... lightening the anchor to life itself in a sense ..... and thereby casting a thin line with a tiny golden hook into that eternity of the poem.



Friko said...

My dear Lydia,
Every time we hear that something in or of our past has irretrievably gone, even if it is long gone from our conscious memory, we die a little too. This applies much more in the case of the death of a loved one, no matter how long ago the connection was severed.

We come face to face with our own mortality and the transitoriness of everything we have ever held dear.

So, mourn your past love, but don't forget to value the love you have now, for tomorrow will surely come.

Batteson.Ind said...

This is such a touching post. It takes a proper human to realise that every thing, person and place goes towards forming who we are as people. Kudo's to your current partner for allowing you the time and space to process your mourning. It always gives me hope in humanity when I hear of people who accept each other's history and support each other through it.. Cheers for sharing and your poem is just beautiful...

Unknown said...

Oh, I'm sorry, and I do understand the oddness of it all.

The disconnectness of it.

Perhaps our generation will come up with a term for the love we carry for past loves. It was the 60's and 70's for God's sake, and we were all so very young and knew everything back then.
How could I have known or realized what it would mean to lose touch with some of those boy-men? That I would never see someone I loved so much, but with whom a 50-year future was not in the cards?
I liken it to the intimate conversations you might have with a companion seated next to you on a Greyhound bus. You meet, you connect, you talk and share your life and your snacks, you get off at different junctures and wish each other well. Too late I find that I wished I would have looked back for just a second and said an extra "Luv Ya!" "Take good care!" when we parted.

Lydia said...

@Friko- Oftentimes, your comments are meaningful additions to my posts, and on this occasion you were super. Thank you for your wisdom, and, be assured, I do value and treasure the love I have now with my Michael.

@the watercats- You, too, speak eloquently to the wonders of having a partner who knows our story and wants to help us finish writing it.

@Distracted- How very interesting that you would emphasize the generation aspect to "the oddness of it all." Ours is, after all, a different kind of tale...we having loved those "boy-men" and they having loved us the girl-women with far less abandon, and attachment, than generations that preceded us.
Love your analogy of the Greyhound bus. And it is so strange you would write that because Saturday eve Mike and I watched a movie titled Passengers with Anne Hathaway that eerily parallels your scenario. I finally had the tears I'd been holding back after seeing the movie (which didn't receive the greatest reviews but I loved it).

Anonymous said...

The poem is beautiful. There's no judging who we love or how, even after many years and never seeing each other for the longest time.

Some connections stay alive anyway. Certainly, I've found that to be the case. So, I don't believe there is anything strange about your grieving.

Seven years after the ending of a relationship that ushered in a line of inappropriate men I had relationships with (because my heart was so very broken), I got a call in the very early morning from this long ago love.

He was drunk, and all too chipper and trying to flirt, reminiscing about all the good times we had... whereas for me, talking to him dredged up such heartache for me, so much pain.

Why was he calling me anyway? I still don't really know. But its fascinating that he did out of the blue so many years later, and that I got to re-live heartache I'd thought of as long-gone.

Anyway, enough rambling on about me. Take the time to grieve and let it out. He was a part of your life and you loved him, still do. We don't always get to know what happens to old friends, but you have his story and will know more of it when you meet his brother.

Owen said...

Lydia, what a beautiful piece of writing here, as though you held up the flap opening of a tee pee and invited us in to a very clear atmosphere with colored hangings, where sitting in a circle with us you told this story, and then the people sitting around the circle here commented, and the whole harmonious, caring, peaceful... thank you.

A few lines from Jackson Browne's "For A Dancer" come to mind immediately :

Keep a fire burning in your eye
Pay attention to the open sky
You never know what will be coming down
I dont remember losing track of you
You were always dancing in and out of view
I must have thought youd always be around
Always keeping things real by playing the clown
Now youre nowhere to be found

I dont know what happens when people die
Cant seem to grasp it as hard as I try
Its like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I cant sing
I cant help listening...

Maggie May said...

I stumbled here and really enjoy your honest and compelling writing. I'm sorry your friend died so young of lympohoma- such a shitty disease. Cancer is so terrible. I am also a poet, nice to 'meet' you :)

Rhiannon said...

Oh Lydia,

My heart goes out to you..I feel your heart stirring with memories and shock. Time will hopefully heal but you will also have the memories...alas those never leave us..probably a good thing since experiences throughout our lives teach us lessons of we can continue on our paths to where we are going.

You know many of us still remember the lost loves gone "bye" in our lives. I have also. Like you I found out later that that "special someone" in the past had been in a horredous car accident, a large truck on the highway going downhill drove right over his car. He was brain dead upon arriving at the hospital. No one told me this until a year after it happened as they knew I was trying to start a new life and for some reason they had decided not to tell me until I found out when I made a phone call to someone about something else. I was shocked upset and with my "new love" and I remember falling to the floor and sobbing uncontrollably. Like you my new love was totally there for me and so supportive and loving and caring.

He did survive and had permanent brain damage and aphasgia (spelling?)I have been curious just to say hello or know if he is alive still or not? I've tried through the years but never found out where or if he is still alive. I ponder our marriage of 8 years back in the mid 70's,moving to Japan then as he was in the air force and an air traffic controller..and I also remember the abuse..and 3 years later after our divorce when he heard I was engaged to be married I received a long letter of apology and "regrets" signing "love" with his signature. Other things happened during those times and it affected me a lot. On and off I have felt the need to know "is he alive still or not"?'s that not knowing that bothers me..I also would like to talk with him once more if I could.

I know he would be just stunned, shocked and amazed at what has happened in my life in the last 11 years or so..he just wouldn't believe it..or maybe he would..for he knew how bizzare and dysfunctional my family is..but he wouldn't believe about my "former" soulmate" husband and what he did to me. One of those lifetime movies.

All this "not knowing" is strange for me.

You will always remember your past Love in your heart,that is more than okay. By the way the poem is beautiful should write more poetry.

Thinking of you and hoping as time goes on it will get a bit "easier"..I really appreciate your direct honesty and openess in your writing in this post..not an easy thing to do and who knows?..maybe it will help heal a bit this sad news.

So, glad your hubby is there for are so blessed and very lucky to have this!



Lydia said...

Dear All ---

Although I noted the poet's name after the poem in my original post, a few readers have mistaken the poem to be one of my own. No, it is not my work. I altered the poet credit so that it appears after the title, and changed some wording in the text that initially read: One night in 1982 I wrote in a book of mine... to where it now reads: One night in 1982 I wrote in a book given to me by a friend....
I apologize for any confusion I caused. ~Lydia

Lille Diane said...


We say "we stumble upon" things, people, places, etc. I think all our journeys and the people in them--whether or not they linger--are for a reason. No matter how long, how small or how insignificant it appears to be in the moment...they are important.

I, too, am in awe of your husband, and how he has the confidence, and wisdom, to allow you to be who you are, when you need to be you. We cannot ignore the past as though it never were. Michael was, and always will be, a part of you.

I admire your ability to write about a difficult time in such a way that I, a new reader, feel a connection with you. Please know someone from Ohio is thinking of you and is thankful to have stumbled upon you, your blog, and this moment in time to read your beautifully written poem, and post.

Lydia said...

@Svasti- See note just above regarding authorship of poem, just in case you thought I wrote it. :)
No, not enough rambling about you! It is fascinating to read how others react and interact with heartbreak. I so appreciate the way your words were placed to comfort and validate my feelings. And you are absolutely right, I am fortunate to at least know what happened to this one old friend.

@Owen- Wow. Thank YOU for your comments that sound like they are taken from a novel you might be writing! And to follow up such eloquence with the lyrics of that Jackson Browne song, one I haven't thought of for years and years but is perfectly placed here, all means a lot to me and undoubtedly others here too.

@Maggie May- I thank you for stumbling and staying to read and responding with such lovely comments! Please do note that, where I do write mediocre poetry, this good poem from a mediocre poetry book is not mine. :) I'm on my way over to your blog in a bit...

@Rhi- It was your statement that you enjoyed my poem that clued me into the need to alter this post to make it clear that I didn't write this one. Thank you!
Oh my, another of your stories that make me shake my head in wonder. You are one who has made survival an art form! Is there such a thing as tender tenacity? That phrase came to my mind when I read your comments.

Lydia said...

@Lille Diane- Your personal and beautifully written comments came into and sat patiently in my comment monitoring area while I was replying to others that I'd already collected. It seems to have happened this way in order for me to respond in a single comment to you, to thank you for being here and for connecting in such special ways to these moments in time and at my blog. Please do note the comment(s) I have made in response to others who also thought that I wrote the beautiful poem. Through the years it has become a part of me, as favorite writing does, but it did not come through me.

My husband will truly appreciate what you and others have said here about him. Another who has a remarkably understanding husband, more so than any I've 'met' is Melinda's husband (see The Melindaville Blog in my blogroll).

Honored to have you here.

Lille Diane said...

You are most welcome. I saw the note. No problem here with me. It doesn't change the beautifully written post one bit. I will go read The Melindaville Blog.

And welcome to the Tree House. I'll enjoy getting to know you better.

Hattie said...

Wonderful, sensitive and intelligent and very sad. What you say about the lack of commitment on the part of the young men interests me. It's the story of most of my friends, the ones who are a few years younger, ie on the other side of the sexual revolution. There is something of a silence about life experiences among these women, compared to women like me, long married, who chat quite freely about our years together, our kids and grandkids and just kind of take all that for granted. We may have chafed at our lack of freedom, but we did not feel insecure. We took a lot for granted, I now realize. This could be mistaken for smugness on our part, but it really isn't. It was not easy to hold the line, sometimes. And most of my Boomer friends have landed on their feet and are pretty happy these days, although some are having money problems.
It was a strange time, the 70's.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

I don't think it's strange at all to mourn his loss.

Everyone we meet (even over the ether as we have) has an impact on our lives and when they are taken then a piece of ourselves goes as well.

This post just reminds me how strong you are (even if you don't always know it) and i hope you wont mind me sending my thoughts and love your way at this time xx

earthtoholly said...

Hi Lydia,

I am so sorry for your loss and think I understand how you can feel so strongly for someone from your past.

I wrote awhile back about a friend whom I hadn't seen for over 30 years, but found out only a few years ago that he had died back in the 80's. I always assumed that he would be 'out there' and that I would be able to see him again if I made the effort.

What I can't imagine is how I would have felt if he had been more than a friend, as Michael was to you. I hope that the meeting with his brother goes well and helps you handle the feelings you're now going through.

And that poem is so beautiful...thank you for sharing all and hang in there...

Melinda said...


I can really relate to this story. As you know from my blog, I lost touch with many people from my past--some of whom were great friends and who I really cared deeply about. I have recently found out about a few of them that also died--way too soon.

It has helped me to realize how important it is to treat every single person that I care about the way I would (cherish them) if I might not see them again.

I'm so sorry for your pain in learning of Michael's lymphoma and his death. :(


Looking to the Stars said...

Dearest Lydia, what a beautiful post. The comments others have shared echo my feelings. Take care little hummingbird :)

robin ann mcintosh said...

what a beautiful post. thank you for sharing with us in your haunting, poetic way. i'm sorry for your (i think it can be yours) loss.


Lydia said...

@Lille Diane- Thanks much for additional comments and ladder to the Tree House. Enjoy Melindaville!

@Hattie- Quoting you: There is something of a silence about life experiences among these women,...
Wow. What an astute observation. I never even thought of this particular difference in the women-of-a-certain-age on either side of the sexual revolution. But you really have hit on something fascinating, true, and worthy of more pondering/research, etc.
Also, your statement It was not easy to hold the line, sometimes is truly remarkable. Much food for thought.

@Pixies- I am strong, sometimes. You are articulate, always. Thoughts and love via your ether friendship gladly accepted; thank you.

@earthtoholly- Yes, that is it! You always have in the back of your mind that they are out there, protected by the same (through fragile) o-zone layer, going through the seasons of their lives. But the seasons for them have ended and it is a huge shock to think of that. I guess the ultimate result of the shock must be to LIVE, really live your life!

@Melinda- I know you know, most definitely. You know better than most the fragility of health and life and the commitment to claim/reclaim both for yourself. I have a high school reunion coming up in July and this all makes me feel I must go. I have gotten back in touch with some of those in my class. But I just don't feel like going to the reunion, and knowing when to stay away is a good thing too. Right? hmmm

@Looking to the Stars- sweet. Today I was reading some about wolves and saw a picture of one that made me think of you. Not that it looked like you! But there was something in the wholeness of it that made me think you would like this wolf.

@Robin- Thank you for your special comments about the post. Where I definitely feel the loss I know that when I meet his brother for lunch on Thursday I will be touched deeply by the stories of the enormous loss this has been to his mother, siblings, wife, son, and step-son and step-daughter. I've also thought about our shared friends from those law school years who adored him, and how the news of his death must have enveloped that group with a knowing that one of the lights went out.

Lydia said...

@Robin- Just to be perfectly clear: he was the law student, not I...
Strange that I met him just after my divorce was finalized and my ex had just graduated from the same law school. So, in effect, I was in that peculiarly intense world for five years...

Jonathan Aquino said...

I hope you don't mind Lydia, but this is the first time I realized what a beautiful soul you are. You were very brave when you let the whole world enter your inner sanctum. There was a time when the first Michael was the most important part of your life, and there's nothing wrong to acknowledge that loss. You are extremely blessed because your husband respects your feelings. I hope you get to hear the song "What Matters Most" by Kenny Rankin (who just recently passed away), and once you do, you'll understand why I mentioned it. Be brave. Be strong. You are not alone.

Lydia said...

@Jonathan- Once in awhile I am speechless, and nearly so after reading your comments. Thank you for suggesting the Kenny Rankin song. I viewed a video at YouTube prior to replying because, no, I had never heard it. In fact, Rankin is only a hazy tab in the music library for me - so I'd never have known of this lovely song or about his death on June 7 (just last Sunday) without you. In sharing it you paid tribute not only to love but to Kenny Rankin.

***For all who would like to hear "What Matters Most" recommended by Jonathan the link is right here.

Kristin - The Goat said...

If I were to find out that one of my teenage loves had passed on, I would grieve. There is still a chance I might run into them now and knowing that it was truly over would be heartbreaking.

It truly is a link in your past.

What a beautiful tribute you gave, truly beautiful.

I hope...many things for you.

Lydia said...

@Kirby- Since there is still a chance that you might run into a past love of yours I hope that happens! Give 'em big hugs and that beautiful smile of yours to add to the sweet memories from the past.
Thanks so much for your comments.

Erin Davis said...

Funny how Facebook can help us call across eternity...

I think that we each make a place in the consciousness of the ones who have loved us for however brief a time. In that place we are uniquely us, but uniquely belong to that person who loved us. You have expressed your grief in such a lovely and real way.

Nancy said...

I think it is always a shock when we find out someone we knew and loved has died. Almost like we should have known when they passed somehow.

Lydia said...

@Erin- Thank you for your touching words, and the concept of "a place in the consciousness."
Sounds like you may have already had some fun/interesting times on Facebook. :)

@Lover of Life- How true. And who's to say that it did not occur at a moment when we were thinking of them especially strongly.....

Anonymous said...

Lydia -

What a beautiful posting. When I look back, I can't believe we let these things happen - that we let people get away from us. Slip away so easily. The Moody Blues have a song that I enjoy called "I know you're out there somewhere," and for the people that I let out of my reach, I always thought I would see them again somewhere. And this has been true, I've found, in all cases except one. I wrote this poem last December and although it's not as presentable as I would like, I want to offer it here as a kind of affirmation that what you've written is uniquely touching.

PS - the moody blues also wrote a song called ' i never thought I'd live to be a million' which is the other way I feel today.


Inside the old man, solitary and simple, is a young man.
Inside the young man is a fire.

Inside the fire, laughing and precarious, is the culprit called memory.
Inside the memory is you.

Inside of you, was the tightrope of our undoing.
Inside the undoing was a kiss.

Inside the kiss, the anticipation of lovers.
Inside the lovers was a tear.

Inside no longer.

The tear struggles down the cheek of the old man who'd
Developed a taste for kissing your fingers, because
Today I learned that you'd died.

Lydia said...

@Koe- I am spellbound and awestruck by your astonishingly beautiful poem Inside. That it graces my post as an affirmation is such an honor. Michael, who was one to sit and gaze into spaces I couldn't see while quoting Bertolt Brecht, Kiergegaard, and others, would have undoubtedly committed this poem to memory.....if only he'd had a chance to read it.

I love the first Moody Blues song you mentioned, but will have to refresh my memory on the other.

Thank you so much for this.

Jennifer said...

I feel these connections to almost everyone in my past, especially old loves. It's like we're still connected with invisible strands of feelings and memories and shared experience. The idea of discovering that an old boyfriend had died -- well, it would be like he took a little of me with him, the past that we shared, the little world we created. So I understand, and I'm sorry. It's a heavy feeling.

And I love what you've written here: Still, I've felt the loss of a strong link in the chain of my past, thereby lightening the anchor to my life that was ..... lightening the anchor to life itself in a sense ..... and thereby casting a thin line with a tiny golden hook into that eternity of the poem. I've read it over a few times to think it through.

Lydia said...

@Jennifer- From what you described I think you and I feel very much the same with regard to those connections. Very. much.

Thrills me that you'd read a piece of something I wrote a few times because you can't imagine how many times I've done that with your writing. :)

SG said...

This is such a heartfelt post... I think I can say that it expresses a lot of what you felt and are feeling...

Lydia said...

@Phoenix- Thank you for your comment. I'm grateful for the outlet of my blog to have a place where I could say what was/is in my heart.

StormCrow said...

Hi Lydia

Thanks for directing me to your blog and to your moving goodbye to Michael...

Thanks also for the feedback on my blog. I am glad you enjoyed it, and I value the feedback about the white letters/black writing. As you see, I have taken it to heart.

keep writing...

Lydia said...

@StormCrow- I feel honored that you liked this post. Am coming to your blog to see how you took my feedback to heart. Whatever advice you've offered there I really appreciate it.

Ben said...

54 is far to young to pass away. That's really sad to hear. It sounds like you have warm memories of him. And thank you for sharing such a beautiful poem.



Related Posts with Thumbnails